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While I have worked in offices before, none have been quite like this one (the North American Association for Environmental Education). Almost all of the staff is extremely warm, helpful, and interesting. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend our staff retreat. With over half of the staff members working remotely, it was my first chance to meet many of them. After mingling and eating breakfast, we started with an ice breaker that involved writing words on a block and balancing the blocks with a partner. The first word we had to write was in response to “How do you feel about the whole staff being together?” Immediately, the word ‘welcoming’ came to mind.

Over the two-day staff retreat, our Executive Director Judy Braus, repeated that the staff that has recently been assembled is the best it could possibly be. Judy seems to be right (how couldn’t she be, given her years of experience with different and incredible teams?). Everyone brings their own, unique strengths, all united by common interests and goals. To me, that is what makes non-profits special, especially those with goals related to the environment and/or education.

During the staff retreat, not only did I get to meet the staff, but we had professional development workshops, a beautiful boat ride on the Anacostia River, and a dinner where I got closer with the other interns and a few of the staff members who are in the office regularly. The professional development workshop taught me so much about presentation skills. The boat ride on the Anacostia showed me tangible impacts of the environmental education that we are fighting for.

Finally, as my fellow interns reach their last few days (I only have 7 days left myself), I am amazed at how quickly this summer has gone by. I have learned so much, whether that is dealing with misdirection of a supervisor, adjusting daily life based on a foot injury, or information actually related to the work I’ve done. In my last 7 days in the office, I am going to work even harder to embrace the opportunities I’ve been given and to absorb every last thing I can.

I am really going to miss the office and all the people I have met, but skills, friendships, and networks I have built in my time there will follow me long past the end of next week.